Local News

One Year Later: Nash Music Teacher Celebrating Life Without Cancer

Posted March 3, 2003

— Last March, WRAL introduced Mike Lancaster, a Nash County high school band director who was battling neck cancer.

In the past year, we have shared his struggle through tough times and were there to celebrate milestones.

A year ago, Lancaster was scared. He wondered, "Am I going to be around for another year?"

It was the toughest year of his life.

Lancaster endured two months of chemotherapy and 38 rounds of radiation. Still, the cancer survived.

In July, he had surgery to remove the cancer from his neck.

Today, Lancaster looks more like his old self. At one point his weight dropped to 155 pounds.

"Well, I have to start losing weight now," he said. Lancaster's weight is up to 182 according to his wife, Pam.

Checkups take place every six weeks and so far, there is no sign of cancer.

"No masses. No lumps. Everything looks good," said Dr. Dell Yarbrough, UNC Head and Neck Surgeon

Lancaster is not out of the woods yet.

"Head and neck cancer patients are prone to developing another head and neck cancer even if they're cured of the first one," Yarbrough said.

For now, Lancaster does not worry about the "what ifs."

"I'm thankful that I have another chance," he said.

"Before it was 'This is my wife.' Now this is my best friend. My family -- we're gotten a lot closer," Lancaster said.

"I don't think it will ever be the same," Pam said. "We're too aware of each other and each others' needs. We're more there for each other."

The Lancasters are glad they let WRAL follow them through their ordeal.

"We've gotten tons of phone calls and e-mail from people that have just thanked us," Pam said.

They say they were public about their battle with cancer because they are teachers. Through their struggle, they have taught many people about family, courage and the will to live.

"I want people to know it's not a death sentence. It's going to be rough but you can do it," Lancaster said.

Lancaster will continue to have six-week checkups until July. After that, checkups are scheduled every 8 weeks for a year.


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